When they sin against you - for there is no one who does not sin - and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to his own land...; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their conquerors... and if they turn back to you with all their heart... and pray to you toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.1 Kings 8.46-49
Imagine this, if you will. Solomon is at least 11 years into his reign; Israel's star is rising, if you will, in the region. The temple is a glorious thing, and the presence of the Lord filled the temple (8.10-12). Who would have imagined at this time that the nation would sin and be taken off into exile?
Solomon did! He foresaw the possibility -- the likelihood -- that the Israelites would provoke the Lord to such anger that he would allow them to be carried away. Yes, it was a day of celebration, but it was a day for sober reflection as well.
Solomon also foresaw the possibility that his people might repent while in exile, and asked for the Lord's favor in case that should happen. He doesn't ask specifically for the Lord to bring them back to the land of Israel if they repent, but he alludes to it by talking about how the Lord rescued them from slavery in Egypt -- over 400 years before his birth!
Solomon was remarkable in his day: his knowledge and wisdom won him great fame. But beyond that, he had in mind, as did many men in those days, a sense of what God had done in the past. In thinking about the future, he remembers what the Israelites had done in the past (the book of Judges provides sordid details) and also what God had done in the past (Exodus, not to mention Judges, shows the Lord's great mercy).
That's a good thing for me to remember, when I'm thinking about the future, whether I'm celebrating or feeling anxious. Or both.
posted a day late...